Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What the Israeli - Arab Conflict Reveals

Being married to someone who was raised in a conservative, Islamic, Middle Eastern country, AND personally being a native born American, born-again Christian, obviously raises a lot of potential discussion, and conflict, especially around the subject of Israel. Here is what I have learned from this experience:

1. The information that many people in the Middle East have about people in the West AND the history of their own cultures is often times very limited and comes through sources that are not at all objective. Becuase of the lack of freedom in the Middle East there are limited differences in political viewpoints.

2. The information that many people in the West have about people in the Middle East AND the history of their own cultures is abundant and well-rounded, however, most people in the West choose to care only for the information that fits their politicial viewpoints. Becuase of the abundance of freedom in the West, there are many different political viewpoints.

3. The relative peace and abundance of freedom that exists in the West allows for primarily rational thought, discourse, and disagreement. However much I may agree or disagree with others opinions, I am more than willing to peacefully allow them to have those opinions.

4. The lack of peace and/or freedom in the majority of the Middle East allows for mainly emotional thought, discourse, and disagreement. Disagreements in the Middle East are usually dealt with in a violent, often irrational manner. The more serious the topic of disagreement, the more violent and irrational the method of handling the disagreement.

Basically, Middle Eastern culture, is fine, even admirable in some respects - UNTIL -you have the inevitable disagreement. This is why, in my opinion, Israel reveals much about the Middle East that most people in the West simply did not realize or understand until the return of Jews to the land that is today Israel in 1948. Prior to this time, most people in the West, during the 20th century at least, knew very little of Middle Eastern culture, and what they did know was limited to a "tourist" point of view. This "tourist" view of the Middle East allowed many in the West to mysticize much of the culture, without fully understanding or dealing with Middle Eastern culture on a deeper basis. Perhaps, this "tourist" view of Middle Eastern culture is responsible for why many in the West are supporting the obviously terrorist Hamas organization, which the Palenstinians overwhelmingly voted into power. Perhaps many reason: "They're human, just like us, so of course they want to live peaceful lives. And they're so poor, how can they possibly be a threat to Israel?". What many of these people don't realize, or refuse to acknowledge, is that while they are every bit as human, THEY ARE NOT JUST LIKE US (meaning Westerners). Middle Eastern culture is not about living peacefully, it is about ensuring a homogenous, agreeable, society, by any means necessary. Even if it means that you don't have religious, political, or social freedoms. Even if it means your very death by expressing view points, or living by beliefs that are in disagreement with the establised culture.

What Israel's modern day existence has done is show the world what Middle Eastern culture is truly about, beyond the "tourist" view most have had until now. If, that is, they are willing to allow the truth, not their political preferences, to determine their understanding.

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